Jordan, a high school senior, didn’t complete her university applications over the holiday break as planned, leaving her past deadlines for submission. Since 3rd grade, she has wanted to become an English teacher, a career, which requires her to follow through on her dreams of higher education. She doesn’t understand why she put off completing apps, except that leaving home next year feels overwhelming. Fear left her paralyzed.
Most of us know what it’s like to be afraid of innocuous uncertainties. We fear the unknown. We fear the unexpected. We fear change. We fear what’s hidden. Perhaps it’s human nature to suffer petty fears.
Yet not all fears are to be avoided. Some fears protect us from harm: The hidden could be dangerous. The unknown could hurt us. Something unexpected could attack us. Change means a loss of stability, a loss of control, a shift in routine that had become safe and secure and comfortable.
For established adults with careers and support networks, fear of change means nothing ever changes, we get bored, frustrated, irritated, and unhappy. We turn down an opportunity, and remain stuck in a dissatisfying life.
Jordan is at the beginning of her first adventure away from the family. If her fear prevents her from taking the leap out of her parents’ home, leaving home may become progressively harder with time. One semester hiding under the covers, waiting for courage becomes a lifestyle of procrastination, avoidance, and shame.
What can she do now?
Jordan cannot give up on herself. She will need to push herself to move forward. If she’s passed the deadlines for her top pick universities, but wants to start school next fall, she will need to an alternative plan. She will need to hold herself accountable. Ask for help. She will need to risk being brave and vulnerable.
What can others do for her?
Her enablers need to resign their roles. Concerned friends might choose to confront her avoidance, point it out, and speak up. Parents might start requiring steps toward independence, before the hourglass runs out. They might clarify expectations: “After high school, we can’t let you live here unless you’re learning and growing. You’ll need to take classes or begin working.” Loved ones might rally around and say, “We love you. You’ve got this! Get moving!”